Moving a Round Bale Without a Tractor

Have you asked yourself How can I move a round bale without a tractor? Maybe you are ready to make the switch from small square bales to large round bales? In any case, What you’re probably asking yourself is how you can move these large hay bales. Most people think that you need a tractor to move a round bale without a tractor, but that’s not the case! Admittedly, a tractor is probably the easiest way but not the cheapest.

You can move a large round bale without a tractor. You can use a super low-tech method that involves literally dragging it with a tow strap, adapt a technique used in the logging industry, or there are even some very ingenious trailer designs to accomplish this task.

All of the above techniques are cheaper in comparison to buying a tractor and the appropriate implements needed to move these 1300 lb bales around.

Moving a Round Bale with a Tow Stap

Moving a large round bale with a tow strap can be very frustrating, but very possible. In fact, I’ve been using this very method on my small farm for several years now and despite the frustrations, I think but it’s a lot easier than throwing small square bales several times a day.

The trick to this is to create a self-tightening loop with your strap. Then take your loop and wrap it around the bale. Hook it to your truck or SUV hitch and start driving. Once you start moving one of two things is going to happen. Either the bale is going to nicely follow behind your vehicle. Or the strap is going to slip off, this is the frustrating part.

I find that cinching the loop by hand first really helps keep the strap on the bale. Also, positioning the strap off to one of the sides so that it is pulling back against itself will help prevent slippage.

Moving a round bale without a tractor: Dragging

Word of Caution!

Attaching a tow strap onto the ball of a hitch can be extremely dangerious. The strap can slip off under load and fly wildly towards anyone or anything nearby with extreme force!

To avoid the above happening I like to use a four-way hitch with a big hook on it. Using this hook over the ball makes me feel safer. Doing this can still be dangerous so proceed at your own risk! I should also point out that these bales are VERY heavy! So be sure you have plenty of length on your tow strap so that you don’t end up flipping or rolling a round bale into your vehicle.

Moving a Haybale With SUV

As I mentioned earlier, this method can be quite frustrating. But, it does work and I think frustration is worth it when you have multiple horses to feed.

The Loggers Method

The technical term for this method this called skidding and it has a lot of similarities your previous method but one big difference. This method involves dragging the hay with this skid. A skid is kind of like a sled, but instead of riding it downhill it is pulled behind a vehicle. This skid does two things, first, the skid has a lot less friction than the hay allowing it to be dragged with far less effort. Second, with the hay not being tracked on the ground you’re going to do far less damage do they bale when moving it.

A skid can be made out of a piece of plywood, an old car hood, metal roofing, pretty much anything thin and strong. With the skid attached to a tow rope or chain it can pull large loads with far less effort than dragging the item it’s self.

Logging has used this method for years to help prevent large logs from digging into the dirt when pulling them to wherever they need them. Their version of a skid has an upward angle at the front to help it slide over the top of rocks and debris.

Moving a round bale without a tractor: skidding

For our purpose, we can get away with something as simple as a piece of plywood. The plywood needs to be about a full sheet so that the front edge gets lifted up. Also when using something as flat as a piece of plywood it might help to add a board to the back to prevent the haybale from sliding off. Then you just have to get the haybale on top of the plywood.

Although I haven’t seen anyone do it I theorize that one could combine both the logger’s method and the tow strap drag. By passing the tow strap/chain through the skid plate and looping it around the bale, the bale should end up slightly on top of the skid plate, allowing easier pull and protecting the front edge of the bale.

The Roller Technique

We country people are very crafty when it comes down to figuring out how to get stuff done. Many of us who have done fencing, or heavy equipment work probably have an oversized prybar sitting around. Someone decided that since these large haybales are round, why not roll them!

This process is pretty simple. Use a sledgehammer to drive the pry bar into the center of the haybale. Attach your tow strap/chain to the edges of your prybar so that they are loose. Keeping them loose allows the bar to roll freely and not wind up the strap or chain.

Moving a round bale without a tractor: rolling


Remember back at the beginning of this article when I wrote that round bales weigh on average about 1300 lbs? Taking this into account I really would think twice before going down a hill with this technique.
Think of an Indiana Jones type situation between the bale and your vehicle.

Moving a Round bale With The Crafty Trailer

Moving a round bale without a tractor: using a trailer

Again the ingenuity that we are able to come up with to solve a problem is astounding. I’m guessing since many of these types of trailers are not available on the market some farmer what’s a welder bunch of metal is able to come up with very cool solutions to this problem.

As these trailers are often homemade it’s pretty hard to determine a solid price range on what you would expect. However, I know that my neighbor was able to pay someone to build one for him for about $1,400.

Spear Type Trailer

The one I can tell there are about three different styles a single Bale trailers. The first of these is effectively 3 point Bale spear on a trailer. The idea is to back into the bale, and then use either an electric or manual winch to shift the weight of the bale over top of the tires. This Balancing Act allows the large bale to be moved with just about anything. Many people even use their four-wheeler or side by side ATV!

Cradle Type Trailer

the second version of these effectively hugs the bail picks it up and carries it. It’s pretty inventive. However, I do wonder how well it works when your bail is covered in ice and snow. These hay dolly or hay Movers cradle the bale from its side instead of stabbing it from the end.

Bale un-roller Trailer

The third design that I have seen is not designed to move hay but to unroll it. Although, it could be used to move hay as well. By unrolling the hay if you have a large herd you are able to prevent damage to your pasture. This design arches over the top of the bale and stabs two spikes into its center. I have only seen this design in once but it’s pretty crafty!

I was able to find some commercial versions of hay movers listed below. As of 2-26-20 I am awaiting a reply from these companies on pricing information which I will share as I get it, so check back later!

2ez Bale Mover ????
Poke N Tote Mover$2,393.00Freight
TumbleBug$2,300 – $1,900Ships to local dealer
Universal Hay Mover (Offroad Armor)$1,749.99Free

In conclusion, there are many different ways to move a round bale without a tractor. From super low-tech to commercial or homemade purpose Built hay dollies. Personally, I love the ingenuity that farmers and ranchers show on a regular basis.


Hey! My name is Jeremy. So far I haven't convinced the wife to hop on and write anything so I'm pretty much the only face you'll see. I've been a horse owner now for about 10 years, I bought my first horse while in college for a measly hundred bucks to impress this crazy horse lady that I wanted to date. Turns out we got married, adopted some kids, and kept on with our horse lifestyle.

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